Religion Today Summaries - October 8, 2004

Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk News Staff

Religion Today Summaries - October 8, 2004

Daily briefs of the top news stories impacting Christians around the world. In today's edition:

  • IRS Asked If Churches Can Pray for Bush Re-Election

  • Believers 'Cannot Continue In Silence,' Rainer Declares

  • Ft. Worth Schools Agree To Treat Bible Club Equally

  • Pakistani Judge Orders Muslim Father Arrested

IRS Asked If Churches Can Pray for Bush Re-Election
Susan Jones, CNS News

Is it legal for churches to pray for the re-election of President George W. Bush during their services? The Christian Defense Coalition says it is seeking "clarification" from the Internal Revenue Service, before coalition members launch a two-week prayer tour in Pennsylvania and Ohio. "As Christians, we are praying that God grant President Bush four more years because of his support for the sanctity of human life, his strong commitment to the protection of traditional marriage and his stance on religious freedom and liberty in the public square," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. "It is clear that the public policies of the president are more in line with historic Christianity than those of Senator Kerry. It is our hope that the IRS will not crush religious freedom by attempting to censor and control how churches feel compelled to pray," Mahoney said in a press release. The American Center for Law and Justice has written to the IRS on behalf of the Christian Defense Coalition, explaining Mahoney's plans.  Americans United for Separation of Church and States, a group that monitors politics from the pulpit, says churches, like all tax-exempt organizations, "absolutely prohibited from supporting or opposing candidates for elected public office." Americans United says churches that support or oppose a candidate may face an IRS audit, fines and loss of tax-exempt status.

Believers 'Cannot Continue In Silence,' Rainer Declares
Kyle Smith, Baptist Press

Follow the example of Peter and John -- apostles who would not stop talking about Jesus, Thom Rainer exhorted in a message at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For too many believers, "Our lips are not moving, our hearts are not stirring and we are not telling people about Jesus," said Rainer, founding dean of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary's Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth in Louisville, Ky. "We cannot continue on in silence," Rainer told Southeastern students in a message from Acts 4:13-20. While silence is often borne of laziness, Rainer noted that laziness and personal comfort were far from the minds of the apostles when they risked their lives to boldly preach the Gospel. "We must speak now for the sake of the Gospel, for the obedience of our Savior and for the glory of God," Rainer said during his Sept. 23 visit to the North Carolina campus. He closed with a challenge for students and faculty alike: "May I challenge you in your quiet time each day to pray a prayer like this: 'Lord, allow me to come in contact with someone with whom I may share the love of Christ.' "Watch and see," Rainer said, "who He might bring into your path."

Ft. Worth Schools Agree To Treat Bible Club Equally
Allie Martin, AgapePress

Legal action was avoided after school officials in one Texas city agreed to allow a local Bible club to hand out flyers to parents of elementary school students. Recently, representatives of a local Good News Club asked permission from Fort Worth Independent School District officials to distribute flyers in take-home packets to parents. The group's request was denied, even thought the district had previously allowed the Boy Scouts to distribute flyers through the program. The Good News Club contacted Liberty Legal Institute, a legal group that fights for religious liberty and First Amendment rights, providing legal assistance free of charge to individuals, churches, and groups. LLI represents all Good News Clubs throughout the state of Texas. Kelly Shackelford, LLI's president and chief counsel, says after several meetings between Liberty Legal, the Ft. Worth ISD officials, and the district's lawyers, the school officials obeyed the law. "We went to the attorneys in charge of the school district," he notes, and after some discussion, the district reversed its stance. Now, he says, "the Good News Club is going to be allowed to pass out their flyers along with all the other groups who are allowed to pass out their flyers home to parents."

Pakistani Judge Orders Muslim Father Arrested
Compass Direct

A Pakistani court issued a warrant Saturday for the arrest, without possibility of bail, of a Muslim father who abducted his two small children from a Lahore courthouse on September 13. Judge Khizer Hayat Ghondal of the Lahore Family Court ordered the police to "take whatever measures necessary" to apprehend and produce Abdul Ghaffar before the court at the next hearing on the case. Ghondal has registered a criminal case against Ghaffar, who spirited his five-year-old son and three-year-old daughter out of the Lahore court premises during a court-supervised visitation with them. Ghaffar's children were raised by their Christian mother, Maria Samar John, after she escaped four years ago from a forced, abusive marriage to their father. "This is really a shocking thing for Maria and all of us," a lawyer for Samar told Compass. "It will take a miracle, but we are praying for the safety and recovery of her children."